10 Apr

100 out of 365

Today is April 10 which means that the year 2009 is 100 days old. Today also signifies the 100th photo that I took for each day being inspired by the flickr group 2009/365. I had heard about its predecessor 2008/366 from D’Arcy Norman, Alan Levine and Alec Couros. As I did not find out about this photo project until well into 2008, I did not start last year.

This year I wanted to see if I can accomplish to take and post a picture every day. Thus far, it worked out, but I still have 265 days to go. However, now that I have finished 100, I may post to the photo pool…

There are many “a photo a day” groups on flickr and some have more or less strict themes. I liked the openness of this group as it gives me the freedom to decide on the subjects.

This is a slideshow of my first 100 photos for 2009. I did take more since January and also posted a number of them, but there is only one for each day.

23 Jan

The lens eye

Sarah Perez’ post over at ReadWriteWeb entitled “Technology is Great, but Are We Forgetting to Live?” resonates with me. I don’t like to view everything through a camera lens and thus do not record everything that I see. Seeing fathers film every move of their families on vacation from the moment they wake up until they go to bed always puzzles me and I never want to do that.

If I want to record something, it is done with a still camera to capture that very moment. That is more like a cue for later to recall the event. If I looked at a video, I would not have to think so much myself but have everything played out before my eyes.

When I am behind a video camera lens, which happens primarily only when I record public lectures that are organized by our study programs at the university, I realize that I see the events differently. I cannot not look at the display to follow the lecturer or the participants. Of course, then my field of vision is limited and my attention is not so much focused on what is actually said, but thoughts of “is this shot positioned nicely”, “count till 4 until you pan again”, “don’t zoom in too jaggedly”, “oops, I should have started to move earlier”, “should I switch the light settings now or wait until later”, “will there be a good moment for switching camera tapes”, “great; I’m in the right position to tape the presentation” etc. shoot through my head. Thus, I miss a great many discussion points and can only console myself with the fact that I can watch the recording later on.

Using a still camera is easier for me. I can take it out fast and put it away as quickly. With a video camera, I feel I have to stay “on” longer to capture the conversation / what happens. My still camera gives me more freedom in deciding when, what, and for how long to record something. I carry a camera with me at all times (you gotta love these tiny digital cameras), but I do not take it out to snap away at everything. Sarah Perez put it nicely:

The fine line between what’s worth documenting and what’s not is a hard one to define. We immediately assume that the most important, the biggest, the most incredible moments are those that should be recorded. But it’s these very moments that are best to experience live, with our full focus.

And I surely did not record some of the best moments in my life, but these are the moments that do not require a visual or audiovisual cue to recall.

20 Sep

flickr and Creative Commons

While going through my Google Reader items, I ran across a comment from Sarah McGowan on one of my photos on flickr. She used it in the article “Dignity: Women in Mumbai Avoid Harrassment on the ‘Ladies Special’ Commuter Train“. I was baffled and joyous to see my picture there.

It was a very nice gesture of Sarah to let me know about the photo’s use and not just attribute it in the article as would have been enough. She also sent a flickr message earlier asking if she could use the photo. Unfortunately, I only saw that one when I logged in a few minutes ago. Note to self: I have to find a way to get these messages delivered to my computer because then I will not oversee them.

I had received a couple of comments on flickr earlier, but this one made me think about the power of this photo sharing site and Creative Commons licenses.

Thousands of people use flickr to upload their photos. You can find all sorts of pictures there. Many even reach the quality of awesome photography. However, finding the right pictures can be quite cumbersome. If pictures are tagged, it is easier to find them, but of course only when you hit the right tags.

Once you’ve come up with results that seem promising, it still takes time to look at them all and moving from one results’ page to the other. That’s where cooliris comes in handy. That is a browser extension not just for Firefox with which you can look at pictures as if they were hanging on a wall. You can zoom in and out. In the latest version you also see the photo’s description. When you click on an image to be taken to its page on flickr, Google, Photobucket or other photo sharing sites, but don’t want to stay there and return to your wall of pictures, you have the opportunity to do so. I craved for this feature since the first days of PicLens, the former name of this extension, and it has finally arrived. ­čÖé

But what does that have to do with Creative Commons? Creative Commons (CC) is a licensing system that allows you to keep your copyright, but gives other people the right to use your work under the conditions you put forward. It’s a way away from “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved”. With the vast amount of creative work online and the ease of re-using this work, the CC licenses are great to legitimize the use of works without getting into legal trouble.

The internet makes it easy to copy and paste and not think much about intellectual property because: who will see what you took among the billions of pages or when you make a printout without asking for permission? When I adhere to the CC conditions of a work, I live without guilt. Providing my stuff under CC as well is my way of giving back to the community and providing others with opportunities to use my work. I don’t just want to take and benefit, but share and give if I am able to do so.

Now, when you combine flickr and CC, you get a great amount of pictures that you have available for searching, finding and then using for projects without having to either pay for them, shooting the pictures yourself (which is not always possible) or going without a visual input.

05 Aug

Singles moving quickly favored / Singles mit schnellem Ausl├Âser bevorzugt

The City of New York has proposed a new regulation dealing with photography and filming in the city. Although geared towards professionals, the border between professional and amateur photography are fuzzy, and thus, many tourists would have to forfeit their photography or filming to obey the proposed regulation because most will not have US$ 1 million insurance policy. The NY Civil Liberties Union protests this new regulation and hopes to achieve a revised version or a drop of this proposal.

According to the proposal, if two or more people congregate in one place and film or take photos for 30 or more minutes (including set up and breakdown) or if 5 or more people use a tripod for such activities for more than 10 minutes (including set up and breakdown) would require a license (which is free) and proof of the possession of the US$ 1 million insurance policy.

My advice to you: Visit New York on your own and take photos quickly (also to avoide congestion at favorite photo spots). If you travel in pairs or groups, disperse before taking out your equipment. It’s not safety in numbers.

I just wonder who would look after the inforcement of this law and how it would be done.


Die Stadt New York hat einen Gesetzesvorschlag vorgelegt, der das Fotografieren und Filmen in der Stadt regulieren soll. Obwohl das Gesetz prim├Ąr Profis im Blick hat, ist die Grenze zwischen Profi und Amateur flie├čend. Viele Touristen d├╝rften nicht mehr fotografieren oder filmen, wenn sie nicht ein Versicherung ├╝ber 1 Million US-Dollar nachweisen k├Ânnten. Die New Yorker Civil Liberties Union (Zivilrechtsunion) protestiert gegen dieses Gesetz und hofft auf eine Lockerung bzw., dass es gar nicht verabschiedet wird.

Der Gesetzesentwurf sieht vor, dass 2 oder mehr Leute, die an einem Ort f├╝r 30 oder mehr Minuten filmen oder fotografieren (inklusive Auf- und Abbau) oder 5 oder mehr Leute, die ein Stativ zum Filmen oder Fotografieren f├╝r mehr als 10 Minuten (inklusive Auf- und Abbau) verwenden, eine (kostenlose) Lizenz ben├Âtigen sowie die 1-Million-Dollar-Versicherung nachweisen m├╝ssen.

Daher mein Rat: Besucht New York nur allein und macht Bilder schnell (so wird auch Stau an den Touristenattraktionen vermieden). Wenn ihr schon zu zweit oder mehreren Leuten reisen m├╝sst, dann geht auseinander, bevor ihr eure Ausr├╝stung aufbaut.

Ich frage mich nur, wer dieses Gesetz wie durchsetzen will.